Innovative, “Green” Projects Designed by Students, Faculty and Administrative Staff

NYU has announced 15 recipients of its first-ever Sustainability Fund Grants. The selected proposals were submitted in response to a campus-wide Request for Proposals (RFP) for innovative, effective and feasible projects that help the university achieve its goals of reducing environmental impacts and raising awareness within the NYU community as to the importance of the sustainability agenda. The winning projects encompass a range of sustainability issues, from the food we eat, to the electricity we consume, to the waste we produce. They also cover a mixture of strategies - from resource conservation and efficiency to outreach and communication to academic curricula and research.

“We are impressed with the submissions we received and pleased that they came from every corner of the NYU community,” said Pierre Hohenberg, NYU’s Senior Vice Provost for Research and Co-Chair of the Task Force’s Sustainability Fund committee. “The quality and degree of thought that went into each project made it a very competitive process. We believe these selections constitute the most effective, executable, environmentally beneficial projects possible.”

Forty-six project proposals were submitted by students, faculty members, administrative staff, and alumni. Each was evaluated by a panel of students, faculty and administrators who are members of the Sustainability Task Force and met regularly over the semester. The proposals went through a rigorous review process which considered each one’s likely impact on the campus environmental footprint, its ability to be self-sustaining or institutionalized after initial funding, and its feasibility and potential for successful implementation. In total, over $115,000 was awarded, with grants ranging from $1,000 to $40,000.

The selected projects are:

  • Residence Hall Recycling Project (Led by Jennie Tichenor, Administrator, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and Science, and Patricia Kiernan, Recycling Shop) - Every May, students in NYU’s residence halls discard used personal possessions as they move out. This program will implement a targeted recycling effort during this period for 2008. A specific range of discarded items will be salvaged in an organized fashion and redirected to local non-profits for their re-use or recycling. The goal of the program-“The Green Apple Move-Out”-would be to reduce the volume of the targeted dorms’ waste by 10% below the comparable period the previous year. This program will also save NYU in unneeded carting fees.
  • NYU Wagner Existing Building Inventory (Led by Colin Leary and Sarah Wu, Students, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service) - A Wagner Urban Planning Capstone team will work with NYU’s Office of Strategic Assessment, Planning, and Design (SAPD) to conduct an inventory of 12 university buildings using the LEED Existing Building rating system. After scoring each building, students will work with building managers and SAPD to identify planned renovations over a 5-10 year period and recommend opportunities to implement green building components.
  • Healthy Landscape Demonstration Gardens (Led by George Reis, Gardener, NYU Garden Shop) - The Healthy Landscape Demonstration Gardens, under the guidance of a top expert in sustainable urban gardening, will be a pilot project and model for all NYU grounds. Three currently unused plots behind Coles Sports Center with a total area of over 3000 square feet will be transformed into attractive, chemical-free demonstration gardens to display the methods and principles of sustainable gardening and organic land care. Native plant selections and soil fertility management will combine to create a self-renewing landscape. Students and faculty will have access to these gardens for research purposes.
  • Residential Energy Challenge (Led by Adam Brock, Student, Gallatin School of Individualized Study) - This proposal covers a pilot run of the Residential Energy Challenge, a program to reduce electricity use in the residence halls. Through monthly tracking, print and online materials, educational activities, and prizes, students will take action to shrink their energy footprint, reducing carbon emissions and generating cost-savings for the University.
  • Greening of the Gallatin School (Led by Linda Wheeler Reiss, Assistant Dean for Administration, Gallatin School of Individualized Study) - Gallatin is undertaking a gut renovation of its facilities at 715/719 Broadway, pursuing Silver LEED certification (U.S. Green Buildings Council) for the project. This project will document and publicize the efforts undertaken to promote a sustainable environment at Gallatin, thereby informing the wider community of the potential for green renovation and capital project planning at NYU.
  • Replacement of Water Aspirators (Led by Charles Strom, Director of Labs, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Arts and Science) - The current method of using water aspirators to provide low vacuum in university laboratories is wasteful and inefficient. The project will substitute stand-alone diaphragm pumps in three laboratories to gauge their utility as a water-saving alternative, and assess possibilities for institutionalization across other facilities.
  • Veggie-Powered Vehicle Project (Led by Nelson Harvey, Student, Gallatin School of Individualized Study) - This project is to select a diesel-ready NYU-owned vehicle and convert it to run on straight vegetable oil. Using vegetable oil would result in emissions reductions compared to petroleum, biodiesel, or ethanol. The vehicle will be labeled to alert passerby of its fuel source, raising awareness and sparking interest about alternative fuels.
  • Grow, Cook, Eat, Learn (Led by Jennifer Berg, Director of Graduate Program in Food Studies, and Joy Santlofer, Adjunct Faculty Member, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, Steinhardt School) - A self-contained sustainable food system, GCEL will create the beginnings of an urban agricultural working laboratory. The rooftop or ground-level greenhouse/garden will incorporate the entire food production cycle from production to harvesting, cooking, nutrition, consumption, waste and composting. This working “lab” will be a microcosm of the newly-proposed NYU Food Systems academic program. The approved proposal has two components: an initial street- or rooftop-level garden, and a K-5 agricultural science curriculum, with potential for undergraduate research/collaboration.
  • Revolution Door (Led by Natalie Jeremijenko, Global Distinguished Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science) - The Revolution Door is a modified revolving door containing a mechanical/electrical system that harnesses human energy and redistributes electricity to an output device. The Revolution Door harnesses a negligible amount of human energy for use within a building as a tangible light display, communicating each person’s contribution to an energy cycle.
  • NYU EcoPod (Led by Brad Penuel, Director, Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response) - This project will develop and pilot test an indoor planting system based on environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient technology. The EcoPod will be a self-standing container capable of growing a variety of flowers, fruits, or vegetables indoors and constructed using recycled materials from NYU’s waste stream. The EcoPod can be used as an educational tool for students, office plant container, indoor air pollution purifier, or promotional gift.
  • TerraPass Offsets (Led by Melissa Schilling, Associate Professor of Management and Organizations, Stern School of Business) - A recommendation that the university begin offering Terrapass (or similar program) offsets of greenhouse gas emissions associated with faculty or administrative air travel for business purposes.
  • Bike to School (Led by Emily Allen, Student, Gallatin School of Individualized Study) - A dynamic collaboration between NYU students, staff and faculty, and Time’s Up!, a 20 year old nonprofit environmental group. The project will focus on salvaging and repairing abandoned bicycles, as well as conducting a bicycle use and parking study on campus.
  • Guide to Green Living (Led by Julio Alvarez, Student, Gallatin School of Individualized Study) - The preparation of NYU’s first-ever Guide to Green Living. The booklet will be a reference for students on how to live, work, eat and purchase more sustainably. It will cover such areas as: living in residence halls, computing, recycling, energy conservation, water efficiency, laundry, nutrition and dining, etc. It will be produced in conjunction with the Housing Office and distributed to incoming freshmen in 2008.
  • Lighting Efficiency (Led by Jorge Garcia, Student, Stern School of Business) - With the use of new controller technology, lighting electricity consumption at Coles Sports Center can be reduced by up to 25% without the need for retrofitting. The technology works best with High Intensity Discharge Lamps (HID) and fluorescent lighting equipment, and can yield enormous environmental benefits. This pilot may pay for itself in less than a year, and is a blueprint for future implementation.
  • Comprehensive Solar/Wind Generation Project (Collaboration with Professor David Holland of the Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences; Professor Tom Igoe of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts; and Peter Woods, Facilities & Construction Management) - A state-of-the-art wind turbine and solar photovoltaic generator system will power an array of batteries on an environmental monitoring station on an NYU campus rooftop. A suite of instruments will continuously collect statistical data on the wind and solar insolation of the local environment, as well as record the actual power generated by the wind and solar devices. All data will be analyzed to assess the feasibility of renewable distributed campus energy generation.

The Sustainability Task Force is continuing to evaluate other proposals in hopes of funding additional projects as they become viable.

The establishment of the Sustainability Fund is part of NYU’s Green Action Plan, which was announced by Michael Alfano, NYU’s executive vice president, in October with the goal of improving NYU’s impacts on the environment and saving energy. At that time, the University announced the purchase of 118,000,000 KWh of wind energy, the largest of any university in the U.S. or any institution in New York City.

For more information about the Sustainability Task Force, visit:

Press Contact